Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are persistent pollutants that are ubiquitous in the food chain, and detectable amounts are in the blood of almost every person in most populations that have been examined. Extensive evidence from animal studies shows that PCBs are neurotoxins, even at low doses. Interpretation of human data regarding low-level, early-life PCB exposure and subsequent neurodevelopment is problematic because levels of exposure were not similarly quantified across studies. We expressed the exposure levels from 10 studies of PCB and neurodevelopment in a uniform manner using a combination of data from original investigators, laboratory reanalyses, calculations based on published data, and expert opinion. The mainstay of our comparison was the median level of PCB 153 in maternal pregnancy serum. The median concentration of PCB 153 in the 10 studies ranged from 30 to 450 ng/g serum lipid, and the median of the 10 medians was 110 ng/g. We found that (a)) the distribution of PCB 153 exposure in most studies overlapped substantially, (b)) exposure levels in the Faroe Islands study were about 3-4-fold higher than in most other studies, and (c)) the exposure levels in the two recent U.S. studies were about one-third of those in the four earlier U.S. studies or recent Dutch, German, and northern Qu?bec studies. Our results will facilitate a direct comparison of the findings on PCBs and neurodevelopment when they are published for all 10 studies.
Some evidence suggests that various diet components and nutrients, including vegetables, fruit and food-derived antioxidants, could mitigate contaminant exposure and/or adverse health effects of contaminants. To examine the effect of the consumption of tomato products on blood mercury levels in Inuit preschool children, 155 Inuit children (25.0±9.1months) were recruited from 2006-2008 in Nunavik childcare centers (northern Québec, Canada). Food frequency questionnaires were completed at home and at the childcare center, and total blood mercury concentration was measured by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Multivariate regression analysis was performed after multiple imputation. The median blood concentration of mercury was 9.5nmol/L. Age, duration of breastfeeding, annual consumption frequency of seal meat, and monthly consumption frequency of tomato products were significant predictors of blood mercury levels, whereas annual consumption frequencies of beluga muktuk, walrus, Arctic char, and caribou meat were not. Each time a participant consumed tomato products during the month before the interview was associated with a 4.6% lower blood mercury level (p=0.0005). All other significant predictors in the model were positively associated with blood mercury levels. Further studies should explore interactions between consumption of healthy store-bought foods available in Arctic regions and contaminant exposure.
The consumption of fish and sea mammals can be an important source of exposure to organochlorine compounds (OCs) and heavy metals in populations relying on seafood for subsistence. Exposure to these substances, especially during the prenatal period, has been shown to induce immunotoxic effects in mammals. Immunological status was assessed in 48 newborns from a remote maritime population living on the Lower and Mid North Shore of the St. Lawrence River (subsistence fishing group) and 60 newborns from the coastal urban center of Sept-Iles (reference group). Women were recruited upon arrival at Sept-Iles regional hospital to give birth. Cord blood samples were collected for organochlorine and heavy metal analyses and to isolate lymphocytes for immunological assays (proportions and functional responses of the main cellular subsets T, B, and NK (natural killer) cells. Concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury were respectively three- and twofold higher, significantly greater, in the subsistence fishing group than in the reference group. Compared to the reference group, the subsistence fishing group showed significant decreases in the proportion of the naive helper T-cell subset CD4+CD45RA, T-cell proliferation following an in vitro mitogenic stimulation, and plasma immunoglobulin M (IgM) level, while plasma IgC level was increased. NK cytolytic activities were similar in both groups. The proportion of CD4+CD45RA cells was inversely correlated to mercury and PCBs, while T-cell clonal expansion was negatively associated with PCBs and p,p'-DDE. Mercury was inversely correlated to plasma IgM. Data show that subtle functional alterations of the developing human immune system may result from in utero exposure to OCs and mercury. Epidemiological studies are needed to determine the relevance of these alterations in predicting detrimental health effects in the developing child.
The distribution of acrylamide in food items frequently consumed by Canadian adolescents was determined along with estimates of their contribution to the overall dietary intake of acrylamide. A total of 196 non-smoking adolescents (10-17 years old) were recruited in Montreal Island population, Canada. Participants were invited to fill out a 2-day food diary and a food frequency questionnaire over the last month. 146 samples of foods most frequently consumed by participants were analyzed for acrylamide contents. The highest acrylamide contents were measured in deep-fried french fries and potato chips (mean ± SD: 1053 ± 657 and 524 ± 276 ng/g respectively). On the basis of the 2-day food diary, median total daily intake of acrylamide was estimated at 0.29 µg/kg bw/d, as compared to 0.17 µg/kg bw/d on the basis of the food frequency questionnaire. These values are similar to those reported in comparable populations. Deep-fried french fries consumption contributed the most to daily acrylamide intake (50%) followed by potato chips (10%), oven-baked french fries (8%) and breakfast cereals (8%). Margins of exposure based on genotoxic benchmark dose limits were estimated to be low (˜
The beneficial effects of prenatal and early postnatal intakes of omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) on cognitive development during infancy are well recognized. However, few studies have examined the extent to which these benefits continue to be evident in childhood.
The aim of this study was to examine the relation of n-3 PUFAs and seafood-contaminant intake with memory function in school-age children from a fish-eating community.
In a prospective, longitudinal study in Arctic Quebec, we assessed Inuit children (n = 154; mean age: 11.3 y) by using a continuous visual recognition task to measure 2 event-related potential components related to recognition memory processing: the FN400 and the late positive component (LPC). Children were also examined by using 2 well-established neurobehavioral assessments of memory: the Digit span forward from Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children, 4th edition, and the California Verbal Learning Test-Children's Version.
Repeated-measures analyses of variance revealed that children with higher cord plasma concentrations of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is an important n-3 PUFA, had a shorter FN400 latency and a larger LPC amplitude; and higher plasma DHA concentrations at the time of testing were associated with increased FN400 amplitude. Cord DHA-related effects were observed regardless of seafood-contaminant amounts. Multiple regression analyses also showed positive associations between cord DHA concentrations and performance on neurobehavioral assessments of memory.
To our knowledge, this study provides the first neurophysiologic and neurobehavioral evidence of long-term beneficial effects of n-3 PUFA intake in utero on memory function in school-age children.
Cites: Toxicol Lett. 2000 Mar 15;112-113:119-2510720720
Inuit inhabitants of Nunavik (northern Québec, Canada) consume great quantities of marine food and are therefore exposed to high doses of food chain contaminants. In this study, we report the time trends of persistent organic pollutants, mercury, and lead in umbilical cord blood of infants from three communities of the east coast of Hudson Bay in Nunavik. We analyzed 251 cord blood samples collected from 1994 through 2001 for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (DDT), dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethylene (DDE), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), chlordanes, lead, and mercury. Using an exponential model, we found strongly significant decreasing trends for PCBs (7.9% per year, p